To date, the company has saved a huge five million plastic bottles from being made and disposed, and aims to ramp this up to 50 million by 2025.
Chief executive Brianne West started the company in 2012 as a University of Canterbury Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha science student, with seven compostable products. Growth has been phenomenal, averaging 300 percent for the past three years.
Ethique’s products, which now include a baby and pet product range, are stocked in 14 countries and will be in 5,000 stores before the end of the year, with a focus on Europe and Asia.
Intensive work has gone on behind the scenes to get to this stage. “Any business owner or entrepreneur knows that starting and scaling a business is full of challenges. But certainly, creating an ethical one has been very hard,” Brianne says.
She had to start from scratch to formulate solid products (particularly difficult for face cream and self-tanner), and develop compostable packaging, which is up to 16 times more expensive than plastic. Scaling an unusual product is tough too, but Brianne says “incredibly supportive partners” invested heavily to ensure rapidly growing demand could be kept up with.
The young entrepreneur wants to see “a bar in every shower”, although there’s a long way to go to educate people.
“We’re trying to encourage consumers to think that maybe they don’t reach for a bottle, but for the plastic-free bar. And with that, we encourage businesses to think about their packaging.”